why blog? – part 1

2013, October

in the last few weeks i’ve had a several emails from friends and readers about how/why i started blogging etc. it’s a great question and definitely one i was asking before i started.

it was back in end of 2010/beginning of 2011 when i first entered the blogosphere. i had just launched my online shoe business neneh stiletto and i was looking for another way to reach customers than just relying solely on  them coming to the website. if you know much about online businesses you know that it takes customer loyalty, brand recognition amongst a lot of other things for people to not only visit your website but to purchase too. i started doing research into blogging for business and took it step by step. that blog just focused on shoe fashion.

the more i got into it the more i wanted to expand and talk about fashion in general. then i started the definition of vogue in 2012. i based this blog on everything fashion. at the same time because sales were low and neneh stiletto wasn’t doing very well i had to shut it down *multiple sad faces* — it was a good transition {although that is not the end of me and online businesses, but that is for another day}.

at the beginning of 2012 i moved from the uk to salt lake city, utah. my family and friends wanted to keep up-to-date with my adventures so i started a separate blog. i soon recognized that trying to run two separate blogs was not only time consuming but slightly annoying too! i started researching other bloggers and realized i could blog about fashion and my adventures in one place {i was also inspired by my blogger idol love taza}.

my blogging experiences have certainly evolved over the past couple of years and i have definitely grown as a blogger, recognizing what i want to share on my little corner of the internet. i feel a lot more comfortable sharing my personal experiences believing that it will touch at least one of my readers. it allows me to be creative, boast, moan and weep without it being too “public” {facebook} if you know what i mean.

but i’m not the only blogger out there so i thought it would be beneficial {and fun of course!} to have some fellow bloggers share their reasons as to why they started blogging, perhaps you will be inspired!

first up is ema, originally from albania now living in the US. she is fairly new to the blogging world but shared her reasons behind starting the lifestyle and fashion blog our love in bloom

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I discovered blogging early this year and I thought to myself, wow this is a great way to share your talents, passions and to keep track of certain important events in your life. As I was searching more and reading more and more interesting blogs (like cupcake mascara for instance), I started admiring those women who had started a blog just for fun and ended up making a career out of it.

I have always loved fashion, design and anything and everything beautiful. So I thought blogging would be a great way to develop and share my talents and passions with others, hoping that I could inspire someone.

I consider myself a shy person and I don’t like to be the center of attention but I think blogging will help me to open up and be more confident about myself and my ideas and thoughts. So I am pretty new in this space, but I am loving it already. Any ideas and suggestions from seasoned bloggers would be great 🙂

jessica, based in the uk, felt blogging was a great way to share her life, avoiding what she saw as the more “public” facebook. enter in young free and married

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So, in a practical sense, I have learnt that blogging is much easier to set up than initially anticipated. It’s a case of following a few quick and simple steps to get your blog up and running and off you go.

Whereas in a more personal sense, I have learnt a new way to stimulate creativity and productivity in an enjoyable way during a time in my life when opportunities to do those things are not as readily handed to me on a plate as in previous times. Being in a job that stimulates learning and progression and being in full time education provides regular opportunities to be creative and productive by (ideally) developing and learning new skills. For various reasons this is not the case for me at the moment, so I guess I figured I needed to take things into my own hands. Taking a bit of time each week to bring my thoughts together and write a blog post has taught me to provide myself with an opportunity (along with other things) to develop an interest I have. In this case, writing. 

I find blogging a more personal way of making my thoughts public, I’ve never been very comfortable with sharing too much on facebook but for some reason I feel like my blog is more of a personal space to share a bit of myself with others, which doesn’t make much sense because technically even more people than I have on my facebook can view my blog because it’s a public site!! I think it’s because it’s my own personal online space and it’s all on my terms whereas facebook feels so much bigger than that.

I’ve also learnt that not only is it a good thing to do for myself, but you also never know who might benefit from your ramblings.

and lastly but certainly not least rachel, also from the uk, shares why she started blogging on make a long story short

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I started blogging four years ago: I spent a month in India, and was so flabbergasted by what I saw that I started making notes. Once I got home I couldn’t think of anything to do with them, so I started a WordPress blog and posted them there. But I’ve only been writing regularly for a couple of years, once we started thinking about having children. I couldn’t believe all the things people had never told me about having a baby. Like, how a tiny person can poo so much they fill an entire baby bath, and you then have to work out what to do with a wet boy screaming under one arm and a poo swamp on the other. Or how you don’t sleep for so long when you first have a baby that you’re capable of eating an entire chocolate gateau in one sitting. Or how you might take your toddler to a farm and suddenly you’re having to say things like ‘Henry, the goat doesn’t want to give you a piggy-back. Get off. No, GET OFF’. I just felt like the world needed to know about these things, and that I would want to remember them later, so I started writing them down.

These days I write about all sorts of things: parenting, family activities, baking projects, books I’ve read and films I’ve seen – anything that interests me. Writing is therapy: it’s the best way I know of working through things in my head and fixing them on the page for later. I love hearing from other people who’ve had the same experiences, and connecting with people all over the world. Parenting small children is frantic, terrifying, thrilling and wonderful. Writing it down helps it all make a little more sense.

i love each and every one of these reasons. it is different for everyone. and one of the great things about blogging is that it is your space. you can do whatever you want with it. sure there is blogging etiquette but no where near as much as facebook {or as irritating either}.

i’ve titled this part 1 because i feel there is so much to discuss with blogging, so watch this space for more…

in the meantime i want to give a big thank you to the beautiful women ema, jessica and rachel for coming on this little adventure with me – i am inspired by each of you!

oh and happy all hallows’ eve!
m.

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youtube videos of the week

2013, October

virgin america. i salute you. who would have thought a flight safety video would be so awesome i’d want to watch it 4 times in one evening? seriously though.

top 60 ghetto name. hi.larious.

and this baby. so dang cute.
i couldn’t embed this one for some reason. watch it here. you will not be disappointed!

ah youtube. thanks for the entertainment.
m.

on being african

2013, October

 i’ve been in utah for almost 2 years {hastagwhaaaaat?!}. i have no idea where the time has gone.

anyway, why did i start with that? when i have met new people here, the first thing that stands out is my british accent. i consider it to still be pretty strong even after 2 years on this side of the pond. i’ve spent endless hours and conversations talking about the weather, the royal family, the language differences, the food, the chocolate {very important}, travelling around europe etc. etc. not a week has gone by without one of these topics coming up. and i don’t mind in the slightest. talking about home is refreshing, even if it makes me a little homesick every time.

but there is another part of me that has taken a back seat if you must. and i’ve felt guilty about it. it’s very much a big part of not just my heritage but of the way i was raised and who i am today.

if you’ve been following my blog for a little while you’ll know i was born in sierra leone, a beautiful, tropical country on the west side of africa bordering liberia and guinea. sierra leone has suffered from civil war and unrest for many years, but now continues to grow in peace. my family moved to england when i was 4 years old. the plan was to live there for 2 years maximum {my dad was doing his masters degree} and we would move back to sierra leone. so my parents took minimal belongings with us two littlies in tow and off to england we went! that was back in 1989. fast forward a couple of years and the civil war official broke out. it was then my parents decided to stay in the uk.

i remember not being able to understand or really speak english! crazy talk…if you know me, you know i sound very british! my parents put me in a private nursery school to allow me to learn english in a more relaxed environment. i still have some recollection of the main room where we would eat {of course}.

my parents are very much the typical african parents but they also understood the importance of embracing the english culture. in my teen years my mum would often say that i was more british than sierra leonean. that was probably pretty true in regards to my mannerisms. but i am grateful that sierra leone, the language, the food, clothing and culture were still ingrained in us, still very much a large part of our home life.

i’m not going to lie, as i teenager {i am ashamed to admit this} i was somewhat annoyed by some of the traditions. i would think “well my friends don’t have to do this!”. but growing up, and especially not being surrounded by it as much now, has made me appreciate that beautiful culture so much more!

i wanted to share some of my ‘salone’ roots by showing you a collection of pictures from my cousin’s wedding back in 2011. she kindly agreed to me sharing these pictures on my blog.

as a background my cousin grew up in a Muslim/sierra leonean home and her husband grew up in a Christian/nigerian home. with the mix of the two cultures is was definitely the party of the year {biased much?}.

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^^here is my gorgeous cousin in her wedding dress. this was the hotel room for the bride, bridesmaids, flower girls, mother of the bride and aunties who wanted to join in. jam packed but absolutely brilliant.^^

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^^when you’re african you ride in style. one black and one white hummer stretch limo for the bridal and groom parties^^

*side note* one week before the wedding, one week, the church called to let the bride know they had double booked them and so had to change the venue. I absolutely applause my cousin for her complete and utter calm. can you imagine??? invites out and all…

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^^some family and friends arriving for the chapel ceremony. here the girls are wearing what we call ashobi. it’s where each side of the family purchase the same fabric and everyone have it sewn to their liking. you’ll see the grooms ashobi in a second here.^^

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^^here is the little bride with her mother and aunt. there’s a little groom too!^^

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^^the groom’s side of the family with their ashobi^^

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^^my aunt {my mama’s sister} and her two littlies^^

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^^the groom’s parents^^

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^^my mama!!^

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^^i just love this picture. these handsome three were ushers. they are my ‘little’ cousins. junior {on the left} is the youngest brother of the bride^^

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^^bride with her father {my uncle} and chief bridesmaids making their way into the church^^

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^^annnnddd they’re married!^^

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^^a quick shot of the bride and groom with the little bride and groom {yes that is traditional in an african wedding – so many family members – they all need a role!}^^

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^^because we had to change venues we also had to do photographs at the reception venue instead!^^

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^^but i think it worked out just fine^^

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^^the party kinda starts from here. my cousin was the mc {master of ceremonies} for the night and announced each group of the bridal/groom party as we danced into the reception {explanation below}.

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^^oh my goodness. here are the ushers and usherettes. this just describes the awesomeness of the reception^^

at a sierra leonean wedding reception each member of the bride and groom’s party will pick a song prior and dance into the reception.

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^^the bride’s parents^^

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^^the groom’s parents^^

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^^finally the bride enters. as bridesmaids and groomsmen we line up ready to welcome her in. it is tradition that she dances in first then goes back to collect her husband to signify that she is now a married woman^^

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^^and here they are – husband and wife!^^

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^^ a few family members come up to share congratulations and embarrassing stories. my cousin found ways to help people stick to their time limits. resting his head on a shoulder was just one!^^

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^^typically at an african wedding there will be traditional dancers/performers. these three are called the ceo dancers and they are amazing! they have performed at africa fashion week in london and competed in Britain’s got talent 2013. check them out here – totally worth the watch!!^^

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^^our family friend there loving the vibes, my brother in the middle there enjoying the music. seriously the best party of 2011 and perhaps since!!^^

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^^here are the bride and groom in their traditional african wear^^

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^^bridesmaids with the bride and groom. that’s me on the far right^^

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^^and their final outfit change for the night. they looked absolutely gorgeous!^^

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^^just a collection of the beautiful colors and the mood of the night. gosh this brings back so many good memories! of course i had to point my beautiful mummy!^^

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^^one of my favorite photos, all of us bridesmaids in our traditional african dresses^^

i have spent a moment or 5 just being reminded of that rich, vibrant and beautiful culture that is sierra leone. i have made a goal to make it a bigger part of my life no matter where i am.

here’s to remembering who you are. your roots and embracing all aspects and of your life.

happy tuesday to you!
m.

hashtagitstheendoftheweekalready

2013, October

the last time i posted it was monday, and now its friday hashtagwhat?! this week has definitely flown by. with 40 hours clocked in at work, a completed diy project *gasp*, trying an american take on the turkish/british kebab and some great news in the projects-out-side-of-work department, it’s actually been a productive one!

the completed diy project
we have been in dire need of a dining room table for some time and with a piano, desk and bookcase already in the allocated space we needed something small and cute. i probably spent a lazy 2 months looking for something. and by lazy i mean i wasn’t actively looking, just had it the back of my mind whenever i went to a thrift store.

a couple of weeks ago my friend korinne and i went on a little thrift store adventure, without having anything in particular in mind to buy {whenever i go shopping with the mindset i almost always find what i’m looking for…even if i didn’t quite know what i was looking for in the first place…i’m sure you know what i mean}. we found the perfect table, and i mean perfect. in size, look, style. plus they had 2 chairs that fit the look. i got all for a mighty $15. i just love thrift shopping!!

here are a couple of before shots.

Table

diy

i first cleaned and sanded down both table and chairs then hit them with primer. unfortunately without my diy guru korinne i bought grey primer {we used white last time} but it actually worked out just fine! i wanted to keep the chairs white and decided to go with yellow for the table. i just thought yellow would be a bright and cute addition to our little space.

i laid out cardboard boxes on the porch as i was using spray paint {which sits beautifully compared to using a brush!} and my oh my. i inhaled a decent amount of paint, so warning/tip…make sure the space you use is well ventilated!

here are the after pictures…i am kinda proud of myself…

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All by myself
^^ i recently downloaded this fantastic photo editing app called a beautiful mess. check it out. seriously. and ignore that little scratch you see on the corner there…that happened when i was trying to move the table back in the apartment…i left it thought thinking it gives in a more vintage look^^

i’ll be looking for two more chairs and a center piece to beautify the table but i’m a proud beginner! more photos of the finishing touches coming soon.

an american take on the turkish/british kebab
a friend recently told me about a kebab café coming to salt lake city. i kinda peed my pants a little bit. if you don’t know, kebabs are a middle eastern dish and are a HUGE hit in the uk. and i mean huge. they are also known as lamb doners {sounds like donnas}. technically the meat isn’t exactly all lamb. at least at home it isn’t. but it tastes so good.  and i never thought of all the things i would miss about the uk kebabs would be one of them.

so i took my roommates and a couple of friends on thursday night to the downtown location of spitz. my verdict? delicious. absolutely delicious. it wasn’t quite the british/turkish kebab i was hoping for, actually it was more of a german/spanish take on this delectable dish. but oh. my tastebuds had a right old party.

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if you’re in salt lake/utah i recommend trying it out!

great news in the projects-out-side-of-work department
remember that post where i talked about finding the perfect venue for a charity fashion show?

The Perfect Venue

well they are called impact hub salt lake city and they are designed as a social entrepreneurship center. i emailed them last week about being a venue for the charity fashion show and guess what? not only were they interested they were excited about the idea too!! can i just tell you how pumped i am?!!!!! just ohmmmgeeeeeeeee. kinda excitement. i’ll be heading down there next week for a tour of the building and to get some discussion going. sooooo excited.

i’m considering going shooting this weekend. it’ll be my first time. and yes i’m terrified. i’ve just about held a gun and the thought of shooting one just for fun is so alien to me it makes me more intrigued. we’ll see if i actually manage it!

today i am just loving life. it’s only one day but for the way i have been feeling recently i am devouring this moment.

happy friday dear reader and have a wonderful weekend!

m.

happy monday

2013, October

it’s monday morning {at least it is here in utah}…here’s something to get your motivated for another week.

always continue the climb. it is possible for you to do whatever you choose, if  you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is  greater than ourselves to do it.
ella wheeler wilcox

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m.

that ‘a-ha’ moment

2013, October

i relish in ‘a-ha’ moments.

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i spent quite some time last night talking with a good friend about life. how unexpected experiences throw “a spanner in the works” and you’re left wondering how the hell you’re going to deal with it because it wasn’t in your life plan. it wasn’t part of your vision.

it drains some of the light in your life and you can quickly lose sight of the things that matter, the things you can control and things that make you happy.

for some reason, after that little chat, ‘a-ha’ happened.

that exhausted flickering light bulb was replaced with a bright and shiny new one.

and i found that quite immediately everything was illuminated. everything.

and i saw the things that had been sat in the darker corners of my vision.

it’s refreshing, energizing, rejuvenating and every other word that describes a sense of renewal.

it’s glorious.

and i believe we are not limited to a number of ‘a-ha’ moments. i believe we get to experience a-ha moments again and again. and again.

because it always gets better.

no matter how hard it gets. it always gets better.

from my favorite motivational speaker eric thomas:
pain is temporary. it might last for a minute, an hour a day or even a year. but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. if you quit however, it will last forever.

it is good to grieve, necessary even. whatever it is you’re experiencing. but then when the ‘a-ha’ happens devour it.

“i got this”

m.

a star and a rose

2013, October

last friday one of my bffs, star owen, married her best friend/soul mate/lobster, aaron rose. it was absolutely beautiful to see both of them so happy and so in love. they were married at the salt lake LDS Temple and it wasn’t until death do them part. no, in the LDS faith we believe marriage can be for time and all eternity. that is marriage is forever. i think that is beautiful. read more about it eternal families here.

the morning started off with the ceremony in the Temple {which is also known as a sealing; being sealed together for all time and eternity} with photographs outside the Temple afterwards. we then had a luncheon with close friends and family at noah’s, a gorgeous venue in south jordan. between the luncheon and reception i had time to run my car to the dealership {love having a car, dislike all the hassle to make sure it’s running!} to sort out a few tire issues, picked up another bff {she was my plus one and i was hers}, and off we went to the reception. here are a few pictures from the day…

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^^they looked absolutely radiant as they stepped out of the Temple^^

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^^gotta love candid shots^^

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^^we were told to act sassy — this is the result :)^^

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^^this is star’s brother jason and my brother from another mother!^^

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^^another one of my bffs; ema iftiu dishnica. she is from albania, and i had the blissful opportunity to be her companion while on my lds mission. i absolutely love this girl. and i also think she is stunning.^^

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^^korinne and i as each other’s dates. i was trying not to laugh while i had a gum ball in my mouth!^^

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^^photobooth fun! this was right at the end of the night hence the slightly disheveled/crazed look^^

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^^i was way too busy enjoying myself to get many pictures of the reception…hence the slightly dodgy shots you see here!^^

it was a wonderful and joyous day and i couldn’t more happier for mr and mrs rose.

m.

i heart my city | the perfect tuesday night

2013, October

did i tell you how much i love live music? when it comes to it i love everything {well apart from rock or heavy metal}. from big budget concerts to small café performances. to be honest, it’s the small café/bar type performances that i adore. i remember attending live performances by one of my friends from university, jay wilcox. he would play at restaurants and bars across bristol in the uk and he’s pretty fantastic. his voice is like woah. check out some of his sound here.

I heart live music

when my friends korinne and kristen told me about one of their favorite bands coming to play in salt lake i jumped at the opportunity. what better thing to do on a tuesday night?

we arrived at the venue at 7.30pm, just like it said on the ticket. well. turns out the band wasn’t coming on till 10.30pm! what to do, what to do. shopping? food?

yes. to both.

we ran into forever21 as i needed some tights for a wedding i will be a bridesmaid at on friday. i also need to stop buying things i don’t really need. like more nail polish.

elise and kristen managed to spend the exact same amount. we all made wishes because it was kinda freaky but cool at the same time.

Whaaat the same

then we decided we wanted some curry. did you know it is national curry week?

Curry!

this place is delicious! it’s on 55 east 400 south. yum yum for my tum.

kristen tried to take a photo of korinne and i. this is the result.

playing with Korinne

No photo this time

Get outta Here Girl

i don’t know what happened. but we eventually got there.

Me and Korinne

and kristen and elise made it look easy.

Kristen and Elise

by this point it was about 10pm so off we went back to the venue to enjoy the sounds of bronze radio return.

Bronze Radio Return

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BRR

they are pretty phenomenal. you should check them out on youtube.

and what better way to end the night than a cup of hot apple cider and hanging out with this pup?

apple cider

Millie

it was pretty much a night of perfection. great friends, laughter, brilliant food and fantastic music. and it was very much needed {you might have noticed my recent posts have been emotion heavy}.

to top it off, on our way to go shopping i stopped dead in my tracks upon finding the perfect venue for a charity fashion show. i did one in bristol, uk back in 2007 and raised almost $1000. it was one of the best experiences of my life and i wanted to do it again. it’s been on the back of my mind but when i saw this place it was like love at first sight. so watch this space.

The Perfect Venue

yes. this was definitely the perfect tuesday night.

m.

l-o-v-e

2013, October

those 4 letters and the journey in finding it.

so you’re both attracted to each other. then you love being around each other and your heart aches when they’re not there. you both want the same thing, present and future. at least you know that you want to be in each other’s present and future because life without that person would be, well, would not be life. you don’t have to love the same food, movies or travel destinations because really, it’s not so much about the activity as it is about the person. just being with them. it’s who they are, and what that means to you. only you know. you’re okay to give your oh-so-delicate heart to them. you’re okay handing them that part of you that no one else has seen in its entirety because this is it. because before you know it, you’ve decided. he/she is my lobster.

but really is it a fairy-tale or is love a not-so-simple miracle?

i’ve recently had discussions with single male and female friends who feel that it is indeed a miracle. an intricate and complicated miracle. simple too because it only takes one.

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and everyone is searching for it. whether you are religious, straight, british or you love rock. it doesn’t matter. everyone.

i have to admit something, on this public forum, on my little corner of the internet. it absolutely terrifies me. to the point that i have yet to fully hand someone that red delicate mush we call a heart. in my search for it i’ve only handed partial parts. and those parts have been damaged so i put them back and say “never again”.

but that’s not the point is it? because when you do find it your heart isn’t going back with a lock and key. nope, it’s open and may (and probably will) feel the pain that is human weakness. despite how hard we try, we often hurt the ones we love the most. and isn’t the point of giving away your love is not to expect anything in return? to experience the freedom of giving without the chain of selfishness.

so, yes, i’m scared.

when i met him, i didn’t think all of these things straight away. they came piece by piece. and maybe that’s the way it is – although recently i’ve gotten into a habit of shedding the “what it’s supposed to be” because that tends to ruin things. believe me. i know.

finally, i thought, i’m ready. at least i think i am.  there’s attraction, and oh. being with him makes me giddy. we happen to love the same food, travel destinations and movies. i respect who he is and who he can become. he infiltrated my daily thoughts. and for once, i wanted to give him my oh-so-delicate heart. you see, i’ve never wanted to give someone my heart in its entirety because fear only lets me give away a part of it. so i was excited. and it felt a little irrational.

then wham, our presents didn’t quite match up. well, it did and it didn’t. and i was left quite disorientated. bewildered. distraught.

but it’s not yet quite finished. i’m not quite done, and i don’t think he is either. perhaps it’s foolishness to think that it just has to work in some way. it. just. has. to. because surely in this situation the only thing we will be left with is pain. but the thought that we are so close keeps us holding on. and frankly, i just don’t want to let go. not yet.

yes, i think love is a miracle.

m.

2013, October

hi. i know, i know i’ve been awol for the last couple of weeks. being completely {and unhealthily} angry at life played a part. we didn’t have internet in our apartment for nearly 3 weeks, and then my laptop died just over a week ago. i felt like i had been thrown back into the 90’s as my phone only works in our basement apartment when we have wi-fi. weird.

i’m also slowly coming out of my ‘just wanting to hibernate’ mood. for the last 5 – 6 weeks i have literally not wanted to see or talk to anyone. i’m surprised i made it to work every day. but i guess work has been a good distraction. fuelled by uncertainty over what the next year is going to bring me, life has certainly handed me a few lemons recently. when i say handed i mean thrown in my face so that the lemons spilt open and i get a seed or two in my eye. it doesn’t help that i’m a cancerian and we tend to be creatures ruled by our emotions, which is a good and bad thing.

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life could be worse, but for now the fact i don’t know what continent i’m going to be living on in the next year, or not even knowing where i want to live/do/be makes someone like me, who likes to have a plan for almost every aspect of my life, feel completely and utterly exhausted. so i forced myself to be social, as much as i could. which i’m not sure was a great idea as i ended up saying ridiculously awkward things to friends and strangers alike. i went to visit some friends and when they asked where i had been, i replied that i didn’t like people so didn’t want to socialize with anyone. what? i was being honest, but really that was unfair of me. and their facial expressions told me it wasn’t the best of things to say, especially when they might wonder if they were under the people i didn’t like category.

it wasn’t one person or a group of people in particular. it was everyone. collectively. and i really didn’t want to offend.

i can definitely attribute some of it to the pressure i put on myself to be perfect at everything, at believing the lie that i am “supposed” to be at a certain point in my life at 28.

so you see there was a good reason for not blogging. and i felt guilty about even thinking about expressing these thoughts on my little corner of the internet – because really who wants to read angry words from a frustrated twenty-something year-old? and really i want to keep this blog as a positive space.

i posted this meme a while ago because it made me laugh out loud.

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and it totally describes how i feel right now.

here’s to weekend getaways, large chocolate consumption, laughing till your belly hurts and watching several hours of white collar on netflix, because when life throws you lemons and all you want to do is not make lemonade but stomp your foot, cry a lot a little and ask for cake instead, it’s absolutely okay. because let’s be honest, this too shall pass.

m.